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Md. woman convicted on fraud charges



Published: Sat, August 17, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Md. woman convictedon fraud charges

GREENBELT, Md. -- A woman was convicted of fraud Friday for collecting thousands of dollars in life insurance on three slain lovers after reportedly using voodoo threats for years to keep witnesses silent.

Josephine Gray was charged with murder after the first two deaths in 1974 and 1990, but the charges were dropped after witnesses wouldn't testify.

The murder charges were refiled in January because witnesses agreed to testify after learning Gray would remain in jail pending the fraud trial.

The federal jury found Gray, 55, guilty of mail and wire fraud and other charges. She faces up to 40 years in prison when she is sentenced Dec. 2.

Citing a gag order that extends to the sentencing date, federal prosecutors and Gray's defense attorneys wouldn't comment on the verdict. Relatives of Gray's former husbands also didn't make statements, but shouted "Amen!" outside the courthouse.

The federal fraud conviction bolsters the state murder case because they share the same evidence, Montgomery County prosecutor Douglas Gansler said.

Images show spacecraftbroken in two pieces

LOS ANGELES -- Images captured by an Arizona telescope may show NASA's missing $159 million Contour spacecraft broken in two pieces as it hurtles away from Earth, the mission director said Friday.

The fate of the comet-chasing mission had yet to be confirmed, but mission director Robert Farquhar said he was discouraged by the news.

"I'll be real honest, I'm not very optimistic," Farquhar said from Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, which manages the mission for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Images taken Friday by a telescope on Kitt Peak show two parallel trails near one of the predicted positions for the spacecraft. A processed image, little more than spots of light on a dark background to the untrained eye, was posted on the Web site of the Spacewatch Project, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona.

When the image was taken, the two objects were 155 miles apart from each other and 248,000 miles from Earth, Farquhar said. If they were pieces of the spacecraft, they were moving slightly slower than expected, he said.

Zimbabwe beginsarresting white farmers

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The Zimbabwean government appeared to be cracking down Friday on white farmers who defied orders to leave their land, charging seven in court and detaining at least 27 others across the country, farming leaders said.

Dozens of others were told they would be forced to appear in court soon, they said.

The move was the first coordinated government action against hundreds of the 2,900 white farmers who defied orders to leave their land by midnight Aug. 8. Many had reportedly been harassed by ruling party militants.

Mac Crawford, an official with the Commercial Farmers Union, was among five farmers charged with violating the government's land seizure laws in a court in the town of Gwanda, 80 miles south of the western city of Bulawayo.

Those farmers were freed on unconditional bail of $15 and told to reappear in court Sept. 6, he said.

Two other farmers were released without having to pay bail at a court in the southern Filabusi area.

Several others in the western Matabeleland province reported being served with papers Friday summoning them to court later, Crawford said.

Miraculous recovery?

SYDNEY, Australia -- A man who claimed he was a paraplegic and who was inundated with gifts after claiming he'd been tipped out of his wheelchair and robbed, bounded up 14 steps and into court Friday to face fraud charges.

Steven Craig Seach, 32, walked unaided into Penrith Local Court where he did not enter a plea to the two fraud charges for which the maximum penalty was not immediately clear.

On July 26, Seach said he thought he was going to die after claiming he was robbed of his wheelchair and left dangling upside down from a fence post for almost two hours in western Sydney.

Seach told police and a packed news conference that he also was robbed of a bank card and mobile telephone by two attackers. He spoke from a wheelchair, with a crocheted blanket draped over his legs.

The news prompted a flood of donations from across the city, including a replacement wheelchair.

He was ordered to appear in court next on Sept. 10.




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